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Hauraki-Coromandel Post - 2021-06-10

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Kids devour healthy school lunches

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Rebecca Mauger

Tofu, lentils, different spices and flavours . . . kids at Waihi Central School are wolfing down their school lunches. The introduction of Ka Ora, Ka Ako healthy school lunches programme has gone down a treat at Waihi Central School with just about zero leftovers destined for the pig bucket each day. Last month there were reports of concern about food waste from the government-funded lunch scheme in some areas of the country. But Waihi Central School students have clean plates nearly every day, says principal Angela Mains. It’s up to schools how they implement the Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme. Waihi Central School has opted to employ cooks to make nutritious daily lunches. When Hauraki Coromandel Post visited last week, cooks were whipping up traditional spaghetti bolognese with vegetables including lentils and celery. New spices and flavours are being introduced including butter chicken and vegetarian meals. “For some of the students, they are trying new ingredients all the time. They’re trying new meals they’ve never had before because their friends are eating it,” Angela says. It’s been having a really good effect at school and at home, she says. “One woman says for the first time she’s able to buy milk for her children to drink, and can afford to buy different meats . . . it’s just helping with that food budget at home.” Teachers have also noticed less behavioural incidents and that may be down to full tummies, Angela says. The school introduced something similar last year which they funded themselves — they had someone to cook lunches for about 30 students after lockdown. The entire school and staff now eat together in the school’s whare kai which was once two classrooms. “We put the plea out to the community for tables and chairs and we had offers from Whakamarama to Hamilton. “Now we have all these groovy tables with lots of history. One table was in a family for 40 years. Banana Pepper Cafe donated about six tables and chairs.” But there’s a slight inconvenience — meals are made in another part of the school and are taken to the whare kai. They’ve cleared an area for a kitchen to be created and refurbishment will start in the next holidays.

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